The Square Cut Saw Track

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About: Desktop Support Technician by day ... Occasional hired gun rock drummer by night ... DIY home improvement enthusiast on weekends - maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. I'm also a professional l...

Here's something you probably don't know about me ... I don't have a sliding miter saw. Here are some other things you probably already guessed ... I do have a regular miter saw; I don't really have the space for a sliding miter saw, let alone a second miter saw; I rarely have the need for a sliding miter saw, and I sure the hell don't want to pay for a sliding miter saw.

Looks like it's time to make a solution ... and then fix the fence on my large table saw sled.

Step 1: The Parts and Layout

You've probably seen a track saw, and they are awesome ... awesome at being expensive. You've probably also seen a saw board. In fact, I was making a conventional 4' one when I thought to myself, "Self, You need to make me a sandwich. But after that, you need to modify this design so we can cut up that sweet 12" wide board that the miter saw can't handle."

Sorry, I got distracted. We'll focus on the modification. 1/2" plywood which I cut down to 10 1/4" x 18". A strip of 3/16" hardboard cut to 1 3/4" wide (left it long). and another piece of 1/2" ply that was 1" wide and around 10 1/2" long (left it long).

The offset to the left of my circular saw blade is 5" so I scored a shallow line at 5 1/8" on a table saw. I'd recommend going a little more then the offset for a cleaner first cut (I know I should've gone with 5 1/4"). This shallow line is an alignment line and a trick I found on youtube.

Step 2: Glue and Screw the Rail

Slap on some glue, line up your rail with the shallow cut, and throw a screw in one end. Now dial in the other end and make sure you use a square for verification. Drive some more screws. I used # 6 1/2" wood screws and I predrilled the hardboard with countersinks. I trimmed off the excess hardboard at this time.

Step 3: Cut the Edge and Attach the Stop

The next step was to run the saw down the board against the rail. I didn't get a picture because I needed both hands. This makes the edge of the board parallel with the rail and custom fit to your saw (like any saw track).

Now the modification. We want to attach a stop to the bottom of this board and we want it to be square. Turns out my framing square ... wasn't so square, so it failed at its only job in life. I used a speed square, which actually did its job, but you could use a combination square or a framing square that doesn't suck.

I lucked out and this end was already square so I used my table saw fence to help me keep it all flush while I slapped on some glue, fired a few pin nails and then secured it all with a few wood screws. I trimmed off the excess on the tablesaw at this time.

Step 4: Brand It

You've probably noticed that I stencil my name on all my shop made jigs and that is because I want to (and my friends are thieves) ... simple. I don't do it to my tools because I never know when I might want/need to sell them and I don't use them on job sites. Anyway .. stencil, black spray paint, quick shot of lacquer on top so the boiled linseed oil doesn't pull the paint out (because it does).

Step 5: Ready to Cut

You're done and ready to cut that board baby!! This one is pretty accurate, but it's more for breaking boards down to more manageable sizes anyway.

What makes it better than the plastic version I could buy for $13?   I can throw a clamp on this and the weight of the saw is supported the entire length of the cut, so Ican run the saw with my left hand while supporting the off cut with my right hand, which eliminates pinching/kickback risk I'd normally encounter.  Also, since the offset to the blade is already calculated into the track, I don't have to measure my saw shoe every time (because I forget the offset) and add to my measurement, etc.  Just mark my desired cut position and put the track there.  It also didn't cost me $13.

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    22 Discussions

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    QuocV7

    3 months ago

    I don't have space for a 12" sliding mitre saw neither. What is the best way to use your jig to make cuts at other angles than 90 degree?
    Is it worth to build the support for the right side of the saw with a similar design? Would it improve the balancing by much?

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    -BALES-QuocV7

    Reply 3 months ago

    If I found myself using an angle repeatedly, I'd make a dedicated jig for it - maybe a jig with 2-3 positive stops at the most. You could make the fence portion swing on a pivot at one end, with a locking knob at the other, but that just seems like it would be time consuming and inaccurate.

    I primarily use the circular saw left handed, so the wide part of the shoe is on the track - no balance issue.

    I'm seeing several companies now make a universal track saw solution. A part clips onto the shoe of the saw. The one I saw today came with two 24" sections of track. but it was $80.

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    jsilvestri36

    5 years ago

    Great idea and easy to do. Might have to make one myself.

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    -BALES-

    5 years ago on Introduction

    An even quicker version of this idea - nice.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U0qRrYLrVY

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    Slabysz

    5 years ago on Introduction

    In step #1, you scored a light line as an alignment trick? Is that just for mounting the guide? Why would you not just use a square and a pencil? Is it so you have a more permanent mark that shows if the guide goes out of alignment?

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    -BALES-Slabysz

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I saw someone do it and wanted to try it to see if it had any advantages. It didn't really.

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    kjlpdx

    5 years ago on Introduction

    you missed the last step. run your saw down the other side of your guide while using the part of the saw base to the right of the blade. this way your guide can make cuts from either side of the saw base. also write on the guide with arrows showing where the drop is. I know it sounds stupid, but it only needs to help you once pointing out which side of the line to cut.

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    -BALES-kjlpdx

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    That is a viable option for sure. I'm not going to do it for a few reasons.

    1. The other side of my saw has a 1 1/2" offset so I'd have to balance the weight manually and since I'm nowhere close to perfect, I'd end up with an angled cut.
    2. I want more than 1 1/2" on that side so I have room to clamp while avoiding the motor housing.
    3. The saw cuts flush to the track so if my keeper piece is to the right, I'll just add 1/8" for the kerf. I cut a little long anyway when breaking down stock.

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    kjlpdx-BALES-

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I made a set of these years ago. if you make the guide the right width then you can use both sides and not have collisions with your clamps. they will be wider than yours, and based, of course, on the dimensions of your saw. I find many times I want to cut on either side because of space restrictions at the workplace. 1½" is adequate to keep your saw level and square if you have a decent saw that hasn't been dropped.

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    claudg1950

    5 years ago on Step 3

    Great 'ible; great twist on a traditional guide board.
    "Turns out my framing square ... wasn't so square". You probably know that there is a way to true up a faulty square, but just to mention it here: take a punch and a hammer and look for the diagonal formed by the encounter of the horizontal and the vertical arms of the square. You ought to hammer down a depression on the metal. If the depression is near the inner side of the square, it will open a little. If you hammer near the outer edge of the metal, the angle of the square will be reduced slightly.

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    -BALES-claudg1950

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 3

    I didn't know what, but I'm sure going to try it. I appreciate that info.

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    claudg1950-BALES-

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Try this (no pictures though):
    http://www.ehow.com/how_8158050_tune-framing-square.html
    Better this one:
    http://www.newwoodworker.com/fxfrmsqr.html

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    kevgrn114

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice instructable!! I am vastly reducing the amount of space I can work in and this will help things out a lot.. I'm going to build one of these for sure! Right after I make myself a sandwich! :-)